Newsletter Offsite

What’s New in Shortcuts – Issue #096

From the latest issue of my Shortcuts newsletter:

Welcome to Issue 96 of What’s New in Shortcuts – this mid-month update is full of Shortcuts news as we head into the iOS 16.4 beta cycle.

Apple published more release notes looking back at what was fixed in iOS 16.3, plus the Shortcuts community discovered a new set of helpful actions (and bugs) from the newest developer betas.

In the Shortcuts Catalog, I published a new five-part series of blog posts on Mastodon Lists and interacting with the API using Shortcuts.

In the community, creators shared great shortcuts for Micropub posting, creative Alfred workflows, and inspirational ideas that resonate with how I think about Shortcuts.

Plus, Shortcuts-powered apps are always releasing new updates – I am a big fan of Raycast’s confetti option ?

All that, and more – here’s what’s new in Shortcuts from February 11th-20th, 2023:

View the full newsletter or sign up for to receive future issues free.


Apple adds new App Intents APIs for Shortcuts in iOS 16.4 betas

Along with the first beta release of iOS 16.4, Apple has published a new beta protocol for the App Intents APIs that let developers foreground their process if user interaction is required.

Michael Gorbach, engineering manager on the App Intents, Shortcuts and Proactive Intelligence team at Apple, posted the following about the release on Mastodon:

In other exciting news, we've added some new App Intents APls in the 16.4 betas:
If you have an App Intent / App Shortcut that generally runs in the background, this protocol lets you "continue" the intent in the app, foregrounding it so the user can interact there. This is great for scenarios such as asking the user to log in again, or if an order needs changing due to items being out of stock. If you're an App Intents adopter, try it out and let us know what you think!

Here’s the description of the protocol from Apple’s website:

The ForegroundContinuableIntent protocol represents intents which begin their work with the app in the background but may request to continue in the foreground.

This protocol will be in beta for the iOS 16.4 developer cycle, so app developers can begin building with this now – everyday users won’t see the effects of this in their apps until iOS 16.4 releases in full after Apple’s testing cycle.

Learn more about the ForegroundContinuableIntent protocol in the Apple Developer Documentation.


How to deep link into Mastodon Lists in Ivory using Shortcuts

As someone who’s a big fan of Lists for managing a larger following on Mastodon, I want as many ways as possible to quickly access my Lists and see what people are saying in each section.

Ivory for Mastodon has a great Lists feature, which you can access via one of the dedicated Tabs in the app (if you give it one of the slots).

Alternatively, you can also swap the main Timeline to show a specific List instead – this works great for saving a Tab slot, plus filtering the whole timeline by default and making your Home feed calmer by default.

Plus, Ivory has Shortcuts support for opening the Lists tab, meaning it’s easy to call a shortcut from any of the many methods and pick from a list to view.

Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a Shortcuts action for opening into a specific list though. That being said, they *do* have a URL scheme. And that means, with some List data from Mastodon and the URL action in Shortcuts, we can open deep links into a List in Ivory — a little Shortcuts ingenuity for the win!

Plus, since there are a few ways to approach this problem, I’ve written up four methods for working with these Ivory deep links – from simplest to most complex. Here’s how each shortcut works:

Ivory’s URL scheme for Lists

When I originally asked about List support on Mastodon, the Tapbots team mentioned they didn’t have official support yet. However, Joseph Duffy saw my message and replied mentioning the existing URL scheme from Tweetbot actually does work if you swap out the app name:

the Tweetbot URLs work in Ivory. If you create a list and get the ID from the web you can make a link like ivory:// Replace the list ID and my account with yours of course. is the page I've been referencing. I assume this is intentionally supported @ivory?

The pattern—built off Tweetbot’s URL scheme—goes like this: ivory://@{handle}@{instance}/list/{list_id}.

To create your own URL, place your username as the {handle}, your Mastodon instance URL as the {instance}, and the corresponding values at the end of the URL for your List as the {list_id} (like 49309 from the link for my Favorites list:

Putting it all together, the Ivory deep link for my Favorites list would be ivory://@[email protected]/list/49309.


This post is marked as members-only. Become a member to access the full piece.


How to look up a Mastodon account’s ID using Shortcuts

When working with the fediverse and Mastodon links, one is regularly dealing with accounts from a variety of instances, each with its own set of URLs for every account.

That means, when using the Mastodon API, it’s especially important to identify each user by their unique ID rather than dealing with different handles and instance URLs, which would otherwise get very messy very quickly.

Screenshot of Mastodon "Lookup acccount" API endpoint documentation.

To solve this problem, Mastodon has implemented a Lookup account functionality, a public endpoint that allows anyone with a Mastodon link to send a web request and return the ID for that user.

To take advantage of this in Shortcuts, I built Look up Mastodon account ID, one of my shortcuts that accepts any fediverse link as input (or gets one that’s been copied to your clipboard) and returns the account ID value – here’s how it works:


How to save Mastodon accounts to Lists using Shortcuts

As you’re building out your Lists experience on Mastodon, being diligent in adding new accounts or going through your following can make the process much easier.

The only downside is, when working with Mastodon posts and accounts across various interfaces on the web and in client apps, there is often an inconsistent experience in the ability to quickly add whoever you’re look at to a List.

On the Mastodon web interface, for example, when looking at a your timeline or even a post, you can’t add the person to a List at all…

…when looking at their profile view, however, the option shows up – the only spot this option appears on Mastodon’s main web interface.

*Also of note: you must be following someone to add them to your list. So if you’re not seeing the menu option on a profile page, it’s likely because you’re not actually following the account yet.*

In order to make the process of adding someone to Lists easier from *any* fediverse link, I turned to Mastodon’s API and Shortcuts, of course – here’s what I built:

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How to use Mastodon’s API to open your Lists with Shortcuts

Lists on Mastodon are an important tool for controlling your experience, allowing you to split up your timeline as you choose and catch up on smaller feeds of posts rather than the full firehose.

Especially without an algorithm, it’s easy to feel like you need to read your whole Mastodon timeline just to keep up – Lists help a *lot* with that.

As someone who’s already spending significant time saving Mastodon accounts I’m following to Lists using Shortcuts, it’s easy enough to quickly access a few lists directly from the web browser.

I already have a shortcut that takes me to the Lists page, but after using it these last two months, I find often I’m going back-and-forth to the Lists page to find each one. And I didn’t want to bookmark every single page, or make individual shortcuts for each one just to open it.

Plus, while I’m intrigued by Mastodon’s Advanced Interface—which lets you view all your Lists in Tweetdeck-style columns—it turns out that enabling that feature actually overrides the ability to view individual lists on the web at all – when enabled, List URLs redirect to your full deck view each time.

So, instead, I was left in search of a way to quickly pick from my Lists and open one on the web – enter Shortcuts.

With a new shortcut that could let me pick from my Lists using Shortcuts’ menus, I could quickly find and access each one. On iPhone and iPad, this could live in a widget or be called up with Siri at any time, and on the Mac, I could use a keyboard shortcut or keep it in the Menu Bar and then use my arrow keys to quickly select a List to open.

I also wanted to retrieve my List data to open as deep links into Ivory, so I decided to look into the Mastodon documentation and see what I could find — here’s what I ended up making:

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How to extract Mastodon instance & handle data using Shortcuts

One of the many benefits of the fediverse is the variety of instances that users can create across different domains, giving inherent independence to the network as it’s spread across many nodes instead of one centralized entity.

However, in terms of linking across the fediverse, that means every URL can potentially have a different host — not all Mastodon links are on, even if your account is located there.

That means, if you’re working with those URLs, you need to prepare for links coming from any specific instance, not just your own – expecting doesn’t cut it.

Plus, when clicking on a link separate from your own instance, the URL is formed with your own instance as the base, but the handle/other instance at the end — an odd behavior to work with at first.

Thankfully, the solution can be amid the components found Mastodon’s URL pattern – and you can use Shortcuts to extract those individual details as needed. Here’s how:


iOS 16.4 beta: New Shortcuts actions for Stage Manager, Intercom, VPN, Always-On Display coming

Today, Apple posted the first developer beta for iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4, macOS 13.4, and watchOS 9.4 — as is tradition, the Shortcuts community rushed to download the new betas and checked for new actions available in the app.

On Reddit, r/shortcuts moderator u/ibanks3 has posted a full list with links to screenshots of each action – here’s the list so far:

  1. Silence Unknown Callers
  2. Set Stage Manager
  3. Set True Tone
  4. Set Announce Notifications
  5. Shut Down
  6. Lock Screen
  7. Set Always on Display
  8. Intercom
  9. Set VPN
  10. Set Airdrop Receiving
  11. Set Night Shift

Apple posts iOS 16.3 release notes for Shortcuts

On Tuesday, Apple posted another update to the “What’s new in Shortcuts” release notes page to add the latest round of fixes made available in the iOS 16.3 cycle.

This latest update includes one main feature, plus a handful of fixes:

This update includes a new checkbox in the Shortcuts editor’s Privacy tab that allows users to disable a shortcut from being run while the device is locked, enhancements to existing actions, and reliability improvements to editing and running shortcuts.

Updated Actions

For those building custom shortcuts, some actions have been updated:

  • Find Reminders can now filter reminders due in the next or previous week
  • Log Workout now supports Ask Each Time for workout duration
  • Log Health Sample now supports Ask Each Time for values on watchOS
  • Find Health Samples now supports searching for health types in the editor
  • Get Contents of URL can now use variables for the file parameter for POST or PUT requests
  • Configure Focus Filter actions now correctly set the Focus Filter on iPhone when run from watchOS
  • Show Notes Folder action now correctly appears in the editor
Newsletter Offsite

What’s New in Shortcuts – Issue #095

Welcome to Issue 95 of What’s New in Shortcuts – it’s the second Friday in February and I’ve got a huge newsletter for you!

Creativity in the Shortcuts community is super high right now—maybe it’s from folks connecting more on Mastodon?—but the ideas coming out in just the last 10 days are excellent across the board.

This issue includes my new Mastodon Lists shortcuts, article & video guides from Shortcuts creators, a whole slew of AI shortcuts that keep getting more & more interesting, and lots of clever ideas from folks sharing their individual workflows — plus, more Feedback for Apple.

I continue to have too much fun with the subtitles in these – enjoy:

View the full newsletter or sign up for future issues.


New for members: Mastodon Lists shortcuts

I’ve just added a new bundle shortcut to the Shortcuts Library — it’s called Mastocuts Lists — and the set of Mastodon Lists shortcuts that it contains:

Newsletter Offsite

What’s New in Shortcuts – Issue #094

Welcome to Issue 94 of What’s New in Shortcuts – it’s hard to believe January is over and we’re already starting in on February.

The new M2 Macs have already been reviewed and shipped, plus the 2nd generation HomePod reviews are out before going on sale in-stores on Friday.

Since last issue, we also saw three major apps integrate with Shortcuts (Ivory, Things, and Pythonista), plus quick app updates, blog posts to read, shortcuts to add, and automation ideas to get inspired by.

Plus, I shared some feedback from folks in the community, highlighted some interesting details in the Shortcuts Spotlight section, and had a little too much fun with the subtitles in this one – enjoy:

View the full issue or sign up for future issues.

Apps Shortcuts

Making a simple Menu Bar applet to replace Shortcuts’ progress meter

Yesterday on Six Colors, Jason Snell wrote a post called Create visual feedback for running Shortcuts about a method he’s using to check his progress in a long-running shortcut using a Menu Bar utility.

His post was born out of frustration with the Shortcuts menu bar applet, which we discussed on Mastodon as being somewhat unobvious as a signal for progression:

Earlier today, I was complaining to Shortcuts expert Matthew Cassinelli about how there’s no really good way to view progress of a running Shortcut on macOS. Yes, the Shortcuts menu item in the menu bar sort of tries to display progress, but… it doesn’t provide any information I find particularly valuable.

I’m frustrated because I do have some Shortcuts that take time to run, yet unless I have them beep or display a notification when they reach a certain point in the process, I have no idea what they’re doing or if they’re even working.

If you didn’t know, the Shortcuts menu bar icon changes while a shortcut is running to indicate progression.


New in the Shortcuts Library: One Thing Menu Bar shortcuts

I’ve just added a new folder to the Shortcuts Library — my set of One Thing Menu Bar shortcuts:

Open One Thing:

Activates the One Thing menu bar app to display any text.

Use this shortcut to activate One Thing on your Mac and have its applet display in the menu bar.

Tapping on One Thing will display its edit window, which lets you change the text and have that show up in the Menu Bar instead.

How To Shortcuts Siri Shortcuts Tips & Tricks

How to copy meeting availability across multiple calendars using Shortcuts

Yesterday over on Six Colors, Jason Snell wrote about his difficulty helping a friend use the Calendar actions in Shortcuts to pull data from two separate calendars:

Lex wanted to use this shortcut to quickly generate a list of times where he’s available for meetings. This is a great use of automation—I wish I’d thought of it. Unfortunately, the shortcut only checks a single calendar, and Lex wanted his availability judged based on entries in two different calendars.

This thread caught my eye: both because I haven’t personally run into that issue, but also because I had actually thought of the automation.

Here’s my Copy my availability shortcut that I built all the way back when Shortcuts was Workflow, which has managed to live on in the Shortcuts Gallery today as the “Share Availability” shortcut.1

In the piece, Jason came up with a solution after Shortcuts couldn’t get all the data in one action: